Stuff your “Survival Guides” with Holly…falalalalaaaa

It’s the weekend of Toy Shows and trees for many…
So I am posting my Christmas Survival Guide for the Mary of the Poppins types…

“Surviving Christmas,” “Christmas Survival Tips for the Working Mum”, “How to Survive Christmas”…

I googled these last night.

Some of the “advice” online is nothing short of HILARIOUS. I fear most of it may have been written by one of the following:

🎄Mary-of-the-Poppins herself

🎄Someone without kids

🎄A Man… 😂😂😂

Here are some of the best pieces I gleaned, followed by my honest and polite responses: (Buckle up!)

1. “Be Prepared.”

No sh*t Sherlock. As opposed to waking on Christmas Eve and remembering to buy a turkey and gifts? Seriously… This is a useless piece of advice.

It’s like telling a woman to ‘calm down’. When in the history of the world has telling a woman to ‘calm down’, resulted in her calming down? Never. So telling a Mammy to “Be Prepared” for Christmas, is NOT helpful.

2. “Buy gifts throughout the year and wrap them as you go.”

Now this one I can partially agree with, except THIS Mammy’s version would read “Buy gifts throughout the year, put them somewhere safe and then forget all about them until the week before Christmas, when you have all the gifts bought and then open a box or bag or suitcase and find all the PawPatrol jigsaws you bought in July.
Or even better, find them when you’re putting the decorations away in January!”

3. “Choose a theme for your gifts to add that personal magic”.

Here’s a theme. ShutthefuckUp.
Most of us just about manage to buy for everyone we have to buy for. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll remember someone on Christmas Day and freak out with guilt and embarrassment and mumble some crap about it not being delivered on time, before popping to the loo to order on Amazon with next day delivery.

(But if you doooooo want to add a personal touch and be remembered fondly by your loved ones, put glitter🦄 into all of the cards and gifts so that their floors get clattered and you are applauded for spreading the magic of Christmas. Go ahead, I dare you! 😂😂)

4. “Place delicate or expensive ornaments on higher branches.”

Go higher Jacinta…
Put delicate or expensive decorations in the ATTIC and leave them there until 2029. (if you have kids or dogs.)

5. “Ice the Christmas Cake 2 weeks before Christmas”

Or in real life, remember on the 23rd that for some reason you need a Christmas cake to have in the kitchen which will never be cut or eaten.
Then you’ll either pop to Marks of the Spensive or decide not to bother with cake this year. Either way, it doesn’t really matter does it?

6. “Decorating the home should be a family occasion followed by a family meal.”

Oh really? Should it really? If by “family meal” you mean a bottle of wine after the kids have all gone to bed, then yes…yes this is true. 😅

Decorating the home is, for most, a painful and highly stressful process which generally takes more than one afternoon and involves tears, mess and even declarations of divorcing children… and husbands. If you can get the actual tree up in one go, save yourself the stress and put everything else up by yourself, on your own, without the rest of the family annoying your head. After bedtime is ideal.😘😉

7. “Keep alcohol locked away.”

Out of the reach of children yes, but keep the key in your frilly fricking apron Mammy Poppins.

8. “Stock up on essentials: batteries, bread, milk and cream.”

Why there is no gin or wine on this list, is beyond me.

9. “Go Christmas Shopping without children. Bring a drink and a snack with you.”

Who the hell wrote this?
If I get to go Christmas shopping without the children, you can me DAMN sure that I am sitting this ass on a fancy seat and having someone called Barista CARRY me the drinks and snack that they have lovingly made FOR me.

10. “Create a cleaning schedule for your home to keep on top of things this Christmas”.

There aren’t enough swear words for this one.

A Cleaning Schedule? Who the hell has time to write a cleaning schedule? In the time it would take me to write a cleaning schedule, I would probably have half the cleaning done. If you can keep floors lego free and counters salmonella free, you’re doing great! You deserve a treat. 💚

Riddle me this Mammies? Why would you spend hours cleaning before opening the boxes of decorations that are going to cause the whole place to need hoovered and dusted again in an hour anyway? Why?

So there were the Top Ten pieces of advice from the various Perfect Mammy websites…

There were a few little nuggets in fairness. Some of the better advice included “Scale down your expectations”, “Invent your own traditions”, and “Give yourself a break.”

Another gem that I completely agree with is “Buy disposable baking trays”: I stock up on aluminium turkey trays every year and everything is cooked in them. It’s a life saver!

Also, Yes to shopping lists. And sublists. (Any list! I do love me a list!)

Plan your meals for Christmas week and do the shopping based on the list. It will save you from buying piles of stuff that you won’t actually use. Will you actually use that goose fat or are you only buying it because it’s beside the cranberry sauce you’ve lifted…that no one in your house eats. I still have ALL of the spices I bought LAST YEAR, unopened and fresh and ready to not be used again this year. #notions

AND remember to factor in Christmas Eve Dinner too. Don’t do my speciality… realise you have a fridge full of food and nothing for the dinner when you finally get back to the house on Christmas Eve. This will lead to arguments about who is going to the shop AGAIN, or toast for dinner.

The “Preparing for Christmas” articles largely did what they always do however; they put undue pressure on already busy parents to stress themselves to create a Hallmark worthy perfect Christmas card-esque scene that, in reality, is nonsense.

Do what YOU want to do. Buy what YOU can afford. Cook what YOU like to eat. If you don’t like mince pies, don’t fricken buy them. If you want to let your kids open all of the presents on Christmas morning, do it! If you like to wrap all the everything, do so.

If you don’t, DON’T!

It’s that simple. We don’t need a survival list to survive Christmas, we need to give ourselves a break and enjoy it, because if you take a second to stop and look around you, often in the midst of lost presents and superfluous food shopping, you can see a little bit of magic without having to buy it.

A perfect family Christmas is like a Perfect Parent… all that’s REALLY needed is love and what works for YOU!

What is your favourite “Survival tip” and why?

Still 4 months to Go Mum

It’s the end of August; which if you believe the Interweb and the Instafluencers, means it’s practically January already.

So apparently it’s time for Happy New Year already?

Eh. No.

Ok, I will agree that once August arrives, I get a bellyflip of panic.  It means the long (and for once glorious!) summer is almost over.   It means it’s high time I was sorting Mini-Me for Back to School.  It means that time is limited to get through the mile long to-do in the summer list I wrote on the first day of her holidays.  It means everyone trying to cram all the things on the “Things to do this Summer” lists into what’s left of their weekends.

But it also means return to routine, which if your house is anything like mine, is something that I can not deny missing.

And then begins September; a month of sunshine and still long evenings where the dust settles on the chaos of the summer months and where Fridays take on a whole new meaning.

Then comes October, with the crisp coolness and warm colours and the excitement and build up to Halloween.

And then we have November, the month which will last 498 days and drive us all to stews and hot whiskeys and panics about how it’s nearly time for Santa Season and we haven’t even “started yet”…

And then it’s December and there’s a whole month of glitter and Christmas and Grinches and never-ending darkness and fires and heating blasting and cold and ice…

And we have ALL of that to do before we even think about next year.

So while YES, once the end of August arrives, the end of the year does suddenly seem right around the corner, in reality, we still have 4 whole months until then.  4 whole months of birthdays and new beginnings and fighting and eating and laughing and growing and sniffling and working and parenting and everything else that our lives entail.

So take it easy on allowing memes and such online images to make you feel like you’re losing time.  You’re not.

And as for those 101 things to do with your kids this summer lists, which are now makig you feel like shit because you didn’t 34. frolick in the park or 27. chase butterflies or 49. take a trip on a train or 30. create a fucking Ant hotel or 793. bake cookies and sell lemonade…  bin them.  Those lists are created by people who live in Lala Land, where there are actual trains. Not Donegal.

So, You didn’t make it to every waterfall or family day out you’d planned.  Your kids didn’t get to go on nature walks every day.  You didn’t get that catch up with your cousin that you’ve been promising each other all year.  You didn’t actually get that night out with your besties that you’ve been putting off until summer since January.  You didn’t get your children to the top of a mountain. You didn’t make it to the beach and the fancy picnic basket remains unused since last year…

So what?

Who says these things have to be done in summer?  What’s wrong with getting that family trip in September if it suits your work better?  Why can’t you go to Glenveagh or to the beach in October? Who says that all of these things have to be done within school holidays?

So while these images and memes are quirky and cute and we find ourselves laughing or nodding in inst-agreement, they’re just another example of how we’re letting strangers online affect our own perceptions of our own lives.  Instead of thinking “sure the year’s nearly over”, ask yourself what you can still do and fit in and enjoy in the 5 months that are left…until next year, where guess what? We start all over again!

Scrap the summer bucket list and make up a new one for yourself and your family that doesn’t have a deadline.

Because yes, summer is done and dusted, but thankfully, there are 3 other seasons and no one is measuring you, except yourself.

 

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Great Expectations Vs Greater Reality

Christmas.

I LOVE it! I love everything about it.  I love the sparkle, the sounds, the smells, the smiles.  I love the kindness. I love how it brings out the best in so many people.

But what I don’t love, is the pressure placed on us by the interweb to create magical, Christmas card worthy Hallmark moments. It’s started already; Instagranny and Bookface are full of pictures of beautiful trees and perfect living rooms.  None of us posted the mess of them being put up though did we!? Myself included.  Of course not.  We want to show the world our best smile don’t we? We want to give the general idea that we’ve gont our sh*t together.

MY Christmas Eve shall be fablis. Here’s how it shall look if I post it online.

Some last minute, calm and fun shopping in town, a family breakfast with my siblings and all of our minions, a quick visit to the grandparents’ homes and then home, where Mammy will wear her apron and help the girls make homemade cookies for Santa, create perfect Belgian hot chocolate for them before snuggling up to watch a movie.  Then, I prep all of the veg etc for Christmas dinner.  Then, as Daddy bathes the girls and gets them ready for bedtime, Mammy shall pour a little drop of mulled wine and begin creating the turkey. We shall have some hearty homemade soup for tea and mammy shall double check her lists to ensure that all is done.  In a whirlwind of excitement, the girls shall leave out their fablis homemade cookies, a carrot and some milk for Santa. They’ll sprinkle reindeer food on the steps and go to bed, happy and excited.

Then, Daddy shall pop a bottle of bubbles, we’ll finish wrapping presents and then we’ll cozy up on the sofa and wait for Santa.

REALITY CHECK

The last minute shopping will not be calm and fun, unless you have someone to sit in the car with minions while you pop in and out of shops.

Family breakfast WILL be fun, but it will most likely also be filled with nyaming and crying, with things like “She’s sitting on meeee”, “He got more berries” and “Stop that nonsense now!”.  The adults will eat breakfast, pretending to have jovial conversation, but really just throwing random and disconnected statements at each other between bouncing the kids.

Visiting – Yes, but the over excited and wound up kiddies will be needing a sleep by then and there is a high chance of tantrums forecast once a loving and caring  Grandparent enters the room.  Add sugar before wrestling kids into car.  Perfect!

Bake cookies:  Buy a box of cookie mix. Add an egg and there you go.  Mary Poppins indeed.

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Hot chocolate: Not Belgian.  Not fancy.  Straight from the coffee machine pods. Plop in the marshmallows and she’s happy out..

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Movie:  In my head it’s Miracle on 34th Street, in reality it’ll be ELF again for 38 minutes before Ben and Holly return.  And it’ll be grand, because Mammy will realistically be watching it from the kitchen.

Homemade soup: HAHAHAHAHA! I’m not that organised.  I go to Mum’s on Christmas Eve and steal a lunchbox full of hers.  No point in both of us making it, is there?

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Mulled wine:  Buy a jar or packet. Slosh in some cheap wine and orange juice.  Done.  (Oh, and if you don’t like mulled wine, why the heck are you making it?)

Prepping dinner:  This I DO do.  Not because I’m Mary Poppins, but because the only thing any Mammy needs to be peeling on Christmas Day is the paper off presents (or the foil of my Chocolate Orange!)  PS.  Did you know you can buy PRE-PEELED SPUDS!?  Go for it Mammy.  It’s Christmas after all!

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Lists:  Once you’re home, scrap the lists. Whatever you haven’t bought by then, doesn’t need bought.  I will do a last To Do list, just to remind me of what needs done before I can sit on my backside for a few glasses of grapes later.  TIP: Write some stuff you’ve already done so you’ll feel better that there are a few lines through it already.

Bedtime: Yes it will be exciting, but it will also be frantic with two children who can’t control their highly stimulated and sugar induced emotion, and full of threats of “If you’re not sleeping, Santa won’t come”.  Eventually, Mini-Me will succumb to sleep, but them going straight to bed and nodding off instantly is as possible as me getting a Chanel coat. Then you get to start to tidy and clean and do all the other stuff that needs doing, just like every other day.  And who will notice or care if your sitting room looks perfect?

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Presents: If you don’t like wrapping stuff, don’t.  Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy curled ribbons.  They do not need to be Pinterest worthy.  Tell people the kids wrapped them, or better still, buy Christmas gift bags.  Sorted.  Santa doesn’t have time to wrap presents in my mind. Santa has better things to do.

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Waiting for Santa?  Yeah.  After 2 hours of tiptoeing about the place, forgetting where things are and trying not to wake the kids with rustling bags, as you try not to KILL each other!   Then you finally sit down to “relax” before realising that the kids will be up in, oh… approximately 4 hours!

Seriously though.

Relax.

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Christmas will come and go. It is magical and wonderful, but it is also what you make it. I just HOPE my Christmas is exactly as I have described, because cheats and realities and all, it’s MY perfect. No one else’s.

The Christmas inspector is not going to visit on Christmas morning to check if your home in Hallmark worthy.  NO ONE actually cares that you wrap EVERY SINGLE ONE of the presents.  No one cares what your kids get from Santa.  No one cares if you have your hair brushed. No one cares if you’re all in matching PJs. And the only person whose opinion matters on these things, is you.

While we like to see people we like and care about looking happy on Christmas morning, remember that you are under NO obligation to post pics  or share ANYTHING on social media.  You are also under no obligation to even look at other people’s photographs on social media.

If looking at other’s “perfect Christmas” makes you feel crappy, put down the device and look at what’s in front of you .

Chances are, your perfect Christmas is right there in front of you…in the real world. Chaos and all.

Enjoy it!

I am Sorry, but Yes You Will Mum

“You will , you know!” 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

“Everyone is the perfect parent…until they have children.” Who said this first? I have no idea. Who says it now? Me. Every single day!

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I am the proud and enthusiastic Mama bear of a 6-year-old Drama Queen and an almost 3 year old Dictator. I spend my days winging it through EVERYTHING… breakfast, school runs, work, homework, dinner, bedtime, marriage. Some days, I feel like I NEARLY have my shit together.

Most days, I want to stomp my foot, throw and tantrum and call for my own Mammy! To many, I seem like I hold things together.

Those closest to me, know I’m a fraud.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I don’t deal with everything in a calm and mature fashion.

I don’t adore my children every single second of every single day. I don’t always have the schedule sorted.

I don’t always remember everything I’m supposed to.

I don’t always know what’s wrong with the baby, just by her cry. I don’t always have a sparkly clean house. (Actually, I don’t EVER. Who does?)

I don’t always remember to wash the uniforms.

I don’t always want to get my No Diggity on in the bedroom. I don’t always feed them homemade meals.

I don’t always give the right answer.

I don’t always say the right thing.

I don’t switch off my brain, even when it’s His turn to get up with them.

I can’t. Because I “Mammy” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sometimes, I yell. Sometimes, I bribe. Sometimes the fridge is empty. Sometimes, I’m so exhausted that I let them eat breakfast cereal for dinner. Sometimes, I pretend I don’t hear the monitor and carefully kick Daddy so he’ll have to get up instead. Sometimes, I let them watch TV…a lot. Sometimes, I swear.

Sometimes, I wish it were bedtime at 3pm. Sometimes, I cry so hard that my Husband doesn’t know what to say. Sometimes, I like being at work because I get to finish a coffee in peace…and I don’t feel guilty. Sometimes, I get a babysitter and go out for dinner.

Sometimes, I hand the baby to Himself as he comes through the door and go for a run, or a pee. Sometimes, I feel like I’m so utterly useless that someone, somewhere will certainly report me to an authority of some kind.

But ALWAYS, I love.

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I am NOT a Stepford Mammy. I will never get it ALL right. No one can, because a perfect Mammy doesn’t exist, and as long as I love my girls fiercely, I’m already doing it right. The moment that a Mammy realises that there is no such thing as “The right way” or “the proper way” of parenting, is light bulb moment.

When you recognise that YOUR choices for your family are NO ONE’s business, a giant weight will be lifted off your tired shoulders. You don’t have to justify your parenting. You don’t have to explain why you breastfeed, or don’t; why you chose this school instead of that one; why you put the baby in their own room at 3 months, or why they still sleep in your room 2 years on.

You don’t have to justify your parenting to ANYONE. The ONLY people who matter in your home, are YOUR FAMILY. And nothing or nobody outside of that matters.

If you are expecting your first Baby and reading this, with your jaw on the floor, thinking “I will NEVER do those things!”, You will you know!?

You will bribe. You will eat leftovers. You will survive on 2 hours of broken sleep. You will use Babywipes for EVERYTHING. You will hate your partner for sleeping. (Sometimes, you will hate them for breathing! 🙂 )

You will enjoy watching kids’ TV. You will have a favourite CBeebies presenter. You will spend your money on the best you can afford for your kids, while wearing a 15-year-old t-shirt yourself. You will be so excited at the offer of a babysitter, that you cry. Oh, and you will cry; tears of frustration, tears of worry, tears of laughter and tears of pure, unconditional LOVE.💕

Because being a Mammy is sometimes crap, but it is ALWAYS wonderful.

And if you are wondering if you’ll be a good Mum?

You will, you know. x

I’m Sick of all the labels Mum

So what’s the “Perfect Mum”

 

Baby-wearing Mum, Carry her Mum,

Co-sleeping Mum, Cot-sleeping Mum,

Room of his own Mum,

Still in my bed when she’s 4 Mum,

Who cares as long as he sleeps Mum?

A Disposable Nappy Mum,  Cloth-Nappy Mum,

Dodee Mum, Suck the thumb Mum,

A  baby monitor Mum, Check her twenty times Mum,

Camera in the bedroom Mum,

I’ll hear him if he calls Mum,

Baby-lead weaner Mum, Organic food only Mum,

Puree it myself Mum, Buy it off the shelf Mum,

Feed them anything Mum,  He won’t eat it anyway Mum,

Fish finger Freezer Friday Mum,

Leftovers in my tum Mum

Always positive parenting Mum,

Doing it all in heels Mum,

Never tell them No Mum

Child is in control Mum

Boundaries help them Grow Mum

Nurture them and Love Mum

Ask patience from above Mum

Shower him with kisses Mum,

Temper is in pieces Mum,

Cherish every second Mum,

Will bedtime ever come Mum,

Reading her a story Mum

Playing with his toys Mum

Letting her be bored Mum

Cuppa always cold Mum

Helicopter or Lawnmower Mum?

Let them fall and run Mum,

Breastfeeding Mum, Bottlefeeding Mum,

Whatever as long as they’re fed Mum.

Screaming and exhausted Mum,

Need a shower and pee Mum,

Calm and zen and ‘Got this’ Mum

Stay-at-home with kids Mum,

Go to work, Work from home,

Have to pay the Bills Mum,

Married, single, step-mum,

Co-parenting, need some help Mum,

Foster mum, adopting mum,

Holding on to friends Mum.

Trying Mum, Lost one Mum,

Wish with all my heart for one,

Happy mum, Sad Mum,

Frustrated at myself Mum,

Crying mum, Laughing Mum,

Fitting everything in Mum

Mum Buns, Mum Tums,

Stetchmarks, hormones and Bumps Mum

Afterschool, Sports and Pool, Taxi everyone Mum,

Homework Fun, Housework Done

Trying my best every day mum.

Kids come first,  Mum’s the worst,

Will this bubble ever burst?

Give your kids the love they need

And to the labels give no heed…

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Say what now?

 

I could keep going.

Mums are amazing.  We manage to be many of these Mums at once, but NO ONE can be all of them.

If you are putting yourself under pressure to fit a label that doesn’t fit you, cut it off.

As long as your kids are loved and fed and cared for, you’re doing just fine Mum.

It can’t be perfect all the time, neither can you. But remember that usually, the flaws you see in yourself, are only seen by you.

To your kids, YOU are their Perfect Mum.

And I am the perfect Mum for MY kids…even if you don’t agree with how I do things.